Goepper sets pace ahead of slopestyle debut
Indiana-born freeskier Nick Goepper has set an early benchmark ahead of ski slopestyle’s first appearance at the Olympic Winter Games. The 19 year-old American overcame high winds to win the slopestyle event at the Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado (USA) on Sunday, with the 93.00 points he scored in the first of his two runs proving unbeatable despite strong performances from his rivals.
Goepper completed a technically superb run despite competing without poles due to a broken hand. He saw off the challenges of Canadian Alex Beaulieu-Marchand and Australian Russ Henshaw, who finished second and third respectively – while his hotly-tipped compatriots, Bobby Brown, Tom Wallisch and Alex Schlopy, came fourth, fifth and seventh.
The event was the first of five that will determine a hugely talented US team’s Olympic roster for the discipline, and Goepper believes he has taken a giant step towards Sochi.
“I’d say this takes off half the pressure [of making the Olympic team],” he said. “The ideal goal is to get two podiums.”
Devin Logan, from Vermont, won the women’s event – but the most notable achievement was that of compatriot Maggie Voisin, who finished third on her 15th birthday to give herself a strong chance of qualification for Sochi. Remarkably, Voisin meets the US team’s age criteria by just 18 days.
McMorris underlines ‘favourite’ tag
Canada’s Mark McMorris continued his own fine form in Breckenridge, coming out on top in the snowboard slopestyle event.
Like its skiing counterpart, snowboard slopestyle will make its debut at Sochi this February – and 20 year-old McMorris showed why he is hotly tipped for gold by scoring an impressive 97.8 points on his second run, performing a spectacular triple-cork to ensure that he finished 6.80 points ahead of second-placed Sean Thorgren. It was a second tour victory of the season for McMorris, who finished second to Finland’s Roope Tonteri at this year’s World Championships in Stoneham.
The women’s event was won on Friday by American Jamie Anderson, , who convincingly headed off Enna Rukajarvi by 6.60 points.
Surprise as Bretz pips Olympic champion
Greg Bretz pulled off a shock in the snowboard halfpipe competition in Breckenridge, beating two-time Olympic champion Shaun White by a single point on Saturday and staking a strong claim for a place in Sochi. Similarly to the slopestyle competitions, this event formed one of five that will determine the US team’s Olympic selection. Australia’s Torah Bright, a gold medal winner in Vancouver four years ago, was the women’s winner.
The ski halfpipe, another discipline taking its Olympic bow in Sochi, saw David Wise win the men’s event on Saturday, while 20 year-old Maddie Bowman led a US clean sweep in the women’s competition – followed in the rankings by Angeli VanLaanen and Brita Sigourney. It was a particularly promising result for VanLaanen, who only recently returned from a three-year absence from competition after recovering from Lyme disease.
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